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"The More You Know"

As the 2016 holiday season approaches, many of us will be traveling to spend time with families. For long distance caregivers this represents an unprecedented opportunity to find out how your loved ones are really doing. So many times all focus is on the ill parent that your caregiving parent’s needs can go undetected until it is much too late. I have always joked that caregivers are a sneaky bunch, and I say that in the most loving way. In my weekly phone calls with my mom before I moved back to South Florida in 1994, she made it seem as if there were absolutely no problems to be had at home. After my first night back, I knew that nothing could be further from the truth. But she was a true caregiver, making sure that her kids living out of town didn’t worry so much.

In different circumstances, a loved one can easily mask the challenges they may face when early onset of dementing disorders strike. At first, it is easy to cover up that you don’t remember the grandkids names in a five minute phone conversation with a general “how’s the kids?” Things are harder to mask during a 48 hour family visit if the caregiver knows what to look for. Barry Feinstein, a Certified Geriatric Care Manager in Fort Lauderdale, Florida suggested that you “should notice if you begin to hear the same questions being asked repeatedly and don’t dismiss the idea that there might be challenges to deal with when mom makes a wrong turn on the way to the store after living in the same location for years” This does not give anyone the right to snoop into their loved ones lives, rather it may be the opportunity to create a dialogue about Advanced Directives and Long Term Care wishes. Instead of sitting down with your parents and demanding that they prepare the proper documents and share their end-of-life decisions, sit down as equals and openly share your wishes with them before talking about theirs.

The challenges of early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s is the focus of the Alzheimer’s Channel at “The more you know, the better you can care”

Gary Barg

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